It’s not difficult to spend forty large on a new car in America these days. Heck, the average transaction price across this country is knocking on that amount, suggesting that nearly half of buyers are signing a note for that amount or more.
Thing is, it needn’t be spent on a milquetoast minivan or cringeworthy crossover. There are more creative options out there in which to haul the family and life’s detritus to the hockey rink and soccer pitch.
We’d like to apologize if our articles previewing the Volvo S60 T8 Polestar Engineered got you excited about the American-made model because you probably won’t get to lay your greasy little hands on one.
Volvo previously stated that the special sedans would only be available in extremely limited quantities. We assumed that meant the manufacturer would probably only build a couple hundred per year at most. As it turns out, that number was a gross overestimate. However, even if you are fortunate enough to have one in your garage, you still won’t be able to own it.
Volvo unveiled its third-generation, 2019 Volvo S60 today and I keep having the same thought — this is what the Buick Century could have evolved into if General Motors played its cards right. That’s not a dig on the tri-shield brand, the Regal is a fine automobile, but the S60 is a car worth getting excited about.
Strange, as the car isn’t really all that new. The XC60 and V60 have been around for a little while and Volvo’s sedan seems to be more of the same. But there are some key differences to go with the welcome similarities (the wagon obviously has the most in common with the S60), and there’s more to the automobile than just good looks and desirable specifications. The S60 represents Volvo’s first American-made car, built at its new $1.1 billion plant near Charleston, South Carolina. It’s also the first Volvo model to forego a diesel option.
Volvo doesn’t want anyone to forget it’s revealing its first U.S.-built model on Wednesday, so it furnished us with a few more teasers to whet the collective appetite. It isn’t the car’s looks that have us excited, however — we already know the S60 will resembled a scaled-down S90 in both form and function.
What has our shorts in a pleasant knot is the fact that Volvo hasn’t replaced the model with another crossover. The new model replaces the second-generation sedan launched in 2010 (and sold in ever-decreasing numbers since 2012) and the automaker seems intent on offering everything customers have come to expect, and then some. There’s even a Polestar Engineered edition of the T8 model that offers 415 horsepower and 494 lb-ft of torque, plus enthusiast-oriented tweaks to the braking and suspension.
Frankly, it’s all shaping up rather nicely.
In order to create a bit of added buzz around the debut of the new Volvo S60, scheduled for next week, the automaker teased images of a performance variant wearing the Polestar emblem. The upcoming sports sedan will be the first Volvo manufactured within the United States. It will also be one of the first models touched by the “Polestar Engineered” performance package, along with the XC60 crossover and V60 wagon.
While Polestar remains its own brand, Volvo plans to continue using the name to denote sporting versions that include some form of electrification. On this batch, that means the only engines receiving special treatment are the T8 Twin-Engine Plug-in Hybrids. The treatment includes upgraded brakes, suspension, and powertrain — resulting in a trim positioned above the R-Design in terms of performance, price, and desirability.
Volvo simultaneously took a trip down memory lane while keeping its eyes on The Future™ when it unveiled the new V60 this week. Remember when Volvo was synonymous with practical wagon-based transportation for upstanding middle-class families? Those days are here again; but they are also gone, as the brand has transformed itself by offering models with exquisite styling, improved performance, and gobs of tech.
These are no longer nice square cars for nice square people. They’re sex machines intended for people who want to make a statement about who they are — and may happen to have children. But Volvo hasn’t abandoned its recipe entirely. It’s still a bit of an odd duck as European manufacturers go, and it’s still building desirable station wagons.
While many of them border on the crossover category, the company has stuck with estate cars, the V90 being the biggest jewel in that particular crown. The new V60 is essentially a scaled-down and more affordable version of that model. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to tell them apart without careful inspection.
Volvo may not have invented the wagon but no company has as much dedication to the practical cargo hauler as the Swedish brand. With the new V60 Cross Country they have expanded to six wagons world-wide (V40, V40 Cross Country, V60, V60 Cross Country, V70 and XC70). Wagon fans sad that Volvo isn’t bringing their smaller boxes to the USA may be relieved to know the V60 Cross Country is not replacing the V60. This means that for the first time in a long time, we have access to three Swedish wagons on our shores.
Is it really necessary to beat the dead horse again? We know that enthusiasts love wagons, demand more wagons, praise wagons and don’t buy wagons. We should be lucky we have any wagons left in our marketplace. The Audi A4 and Subaru Legacy wagons gave way to the Allroad and Outback, two jacked-up, cladding-encrusted faux-crossovers that are really just wagons by another name. Volvo did the same thing too, axing the V70 wagon while retaining the XC70. And then they relented.
You didn’t think the V60 was going to save Volvo, and it hasn’t.
The job of saving Volvo in North America will be left up to the next XC90, a nameplate which accounted for 28% of Volvo USA sales in 2004, but just 9% so far this year.
The hope was that the V60 would show loyalists that Volvo is still in the wagon business, that Volvo is still Volvo. However, the owner of a one child/two dog V50 may not yet have even noticed one of the new wagons on roadways, as only 9% of the Volvos sold in the United States so far this year have been V60 wagons.
Starting in January of 2014, consumers will be able to buy a real wagon again from Volvo. The brand will re-introduce the V60 “sports wagon”, with a lineup of 4, 5 and 6-cylinder turbocharged engines, with the 4-cylinder motors eventually filtering down to the rest of the lineup.